Shortly after the child was born in June 2009, the mother requested the child’s given name of Keli Token be registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket), which is responsible for maintaining Sweden’s national population database.
Much to the mother’s frustration, however, the agency rejected the request, arguing that the child’s chosen name failed to adhere to provisions laid out in Sweden’s naming laws.
According to the laws, names which can be considered offensive or can lead to discomfort for those who carry the name should not be approved.
The child’s mother then asked the county administrative court (Länsrätten) to overturn the agency’s ruling.
In making her case, she explained that Token was to be the child’s middle name and that the she was willing accept an alternate spelling of the name, such as To-Ken or To ‘ken.
She explained further that Token is synonymous with gift in English, and that the name had ties to the birthplace of the child’s father.
The court agreed with the mother’s reasoning, ruling that the child be allowed to have the name Token. In its ruling, the court cites a case from 1987 in which the name Twilight was approved as a given name, despite the potential pronunciation difficulties that could occur for native Swedish speakers.
Moreover, the court argued that Token was neither offensive nor likely to cause discomfort to the child and should therefore be approved.
But the Tax Agency has decided to appeal the decision, and last week submitted a filing to the administrative court of appeal (Kammarrätten) asking it to review the case once again.
In the new filing, the agency explains that whether the name is the child’s first or middle name should have no bearing on whether or not it is approved. It also argues that the English definition of token in doesn’t matter; rather, it’s the word’s meaning in Swedish which needs to be considered.
“The Tax Agency believes the given name Token, which, according to the Swedish Academy’s dictionary is synonymous with Stollen (‘fool) or Fåren (‘sheep’), can be seen to lead to discomfort and therefore is not appropriate as a given name,” writes the Tax Agency in its appeal.
The agency also takes issue the lower court’s invocation of the Twilight ruling, countering that, unlike Token, Twilight isn’t a word with “negative connotations”.